Violence At Home? There May Be Help.
Families across Alaska are feeling the long-term impacts of daily life during a pandemic, and as winter sets in the challenges increase. While we are encouraged to stay at home to keep our communities safe and healthy, for anyone experiencing intimate partner violence this advice may put them at risk. Finding a way out of an unsafe environment is difficult — even during the best of times. With additional challenges such as unemployment, lack of childcare, and in-home schooling, it can be even harder.
If you or someone you know is facing these circumstances and in need of safe housing, the Empowering Choice Housing Program may offer a way out. The program was developed to work directly with shelters who are often the first point of contact for those ready to leave but with no other place to turn. Learn how this program can help families find safe housing for at least 3 years, and other resources available for those in need right now.
Stay safe. If you are concerned that someone will find out that you've accessed these resources, click here for advice about how to use technology safely at home. If you are in crisis or need immediate help, call 911 or click here to find the crisis line in your area.
What Is The Empowering Choice Housing Program?
The Empowering Choice Housing Program is a referral based housing assistance program, designed to meet the housing needs of individuals or families displaced by domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. In partnership with housing programs operated by Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC), families are eligible to receive rental assistance through AHFC, either through a housing voucher program or preferential placement on public housing waiting lists.
How Do I Know If Housing Is Available In My Area?
This program is available in the following AHFC Voucher Program communities: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Sitka, Soldotna, Valdez, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and Wrangell. In the communities of Bethel, Cordova, and Nome — where the voucher program is not available — AHFC will offer preferential placement on their public housing waiting lists.
How Do I Know If I'm Eligible?
If your family income is at or below 50 percent of the area median income you are encouraged to apply.
How Do I Apply?
REQUEST A REFERRAL FROM AN APPROVED PROGRAM
Contact an Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (DVSA) member agency for a referral to AHFC. Tell them that you are requesting a referral for placement in the Empowering Choice Housing Program. Approved programs in participating communities are listed below, and contact information for each is also available here.
- Anchorage: Abused Women's Aid in Crisis (AWAIC) or Standing Together Against Rape (STAR)
- Bethel: Tundra Women's Coalition
- Cordova: Cordova Family Resource Center
- Fairbanks: Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living (IAC)
- Homer: South Peninsula Haven House (SPHH)
- Juneau: Aiding Women in Abuse & Rape Emergencies (AWARE)
- Ketchikan: Women In Safe Homes (WISH)
- Kodiak: Kodiak Women's Resource and Crisis Center (KWRCC)
- Mat-Su: Alaska Family Services (AFS)
- Nome: Bering Sea Women's Group
- Petersburg: Working Against Violence for Everyone (WAVE)
- Sitka: Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV)
- Soldotna: The LeeShore Center
- Valdez: Advocates for Victims of Violence (AW)
- Wrangell: Women In Safe Homes (WISH)
COMPLETE your APPLICATION
Click the link below to download the application. If you do not feel safe downloading and completing the application at home, please reach out to your referring DVSA program for advice on how to complete the application without putting yourself at risk. Click here to learn more about using the internet safely at home.
- Application for Anchorage
- Application for Bethel, Cordova, and Nome
- Application for All Other Locations
submit your application to your local AHFC Office
Once complete, submit your referral and application to your local AHFC office. Offices are currently closed for in-person appointments due to COVID-19. We encourage you to call them directly for instructions on how to submit your application (by email or mail, leaving in a drop-box, or other method).
Once they receive and review your application, you will be placed on a waiting list for the relevant program.
- Applicants in Bethel, Cordova, and Nome are placed on a waiting list for housing offered through AHFC's Public Housing Program.
- Applicants in Anchorage are placed on a waiting list for an Empowering Choice Housing Program voucher.
- Applicants in all other participating communities are placed on the ANDVSA’s waiting list for an Empowering Choice Housing Program voucher.
attend an information session & learn about the program
When a housing placement or an Empowering Choice Housing Program voucher becomes available, you'll need to answer some follow-up questions to confirm that you qualify under HUD subsidy guidelines. This is a standard part of the process for anyone applying for a voucher or public housing. You will be asked about your income, citizenship, birth date, and other general information. You will also attend a briefing session that provides detailed information about the relevant program.
receive your voucher and/or public housing placement
For families receiving a voucher, you can choose where you want to live as long as the rental meets program guidelines. This means that you can look for housing that works best for your family, such as close to your children's school, near your job, or on a bus route. For families placed in public housing, your local AHFC office will work with you to determine which available housing best meets your needs.
How Long Will My Housing Last?
- Families that receive housing vouchers are eligible for 36 months of rental assistance. At the end of this period, you may choose to stay in the rental by signing a standard lease agreement with your landlord.
- Families placed in public housing will qualify for the Step Program or Classic Program. Your housing placement continues for as long as you qualify for one of these programs. Placement in these public housing programs is dependent on your circumstances and guided by AHFC's Public Housing Program Admissions and Occupancy Policy.
For more information about the Empowering Choice Housing Program and the application, referral, and placement process in your community, please review the Empowering Choice Housing Program Memorandum of Understanding.
Who Will Know About My Situation?
All information provided to AHFC regarding the fact that an individual is a survivor of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking will be retained in confidence by AHFC and will not be entered into any shared database, provided to any owner or manager of the leased property, or provided to any other third party. DVSA Programs will not release any confidential information regarding the basis for a referral to AHFC, or any other third party, and AHFC will not ask for that information. Vouchers issued to Empowering Choice Housing Program referrals will not have any information identifying the applicant as a participant in the Empowering Choice Housing Program or as a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Where Else Can I Find Help?
If you do not qualify for the Empowering Choice Housing Program, there may be other help available in your community. Contact one of the organizations below for confidential services, including shelter, food, clothing, transportation, advocacy, legal advice and court accompaniment, counseling, support groups, and more.
- Reach Out To The DVSA Program In Your Area
- Contact The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
- Visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline, or call them at (800) 799-SAFE (7233)